Biking around Town Vol. 7 – The C&O Canal

by Prince Of Petworth April 9, 2013 at 11:30 am 2 Comments

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Biking around Town is written by Josh Nadas (@dcliterate), a daily bike commuter & avid rider who works for the National Park Service, and lives in Mount Pleasant.

We are pretty blessed in Washington DC to have the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal Towpath available to us to ride on pretty much whenever. The path is car free, relatively flat, and generally uncongested – it has the makings of a great ride. It’s hard to write a lot more about the canal trail itself, because there is not much new to say.

One of the things I like about the canal is the opportunity to see wildlife. When I rode out on the trail, it was a bit drizzly and cool. The upside of which was the trail was nearly deserted and there was a ton of avian life. I was able to spot several different kinds of bird, and when I stopped for a snack, a turtle.

The trail itself is really easy to ride. It’s perfect for just about anyone, and any type of bike. The only bike I would not put on the trail is a skinny tire road bike. Pretty much anything with a flat bar is going to be okay, as long as you have reasonably fat tires. The path is a mixture of crushed gravel and sand, so having a slightly wider tire or some tread is desirable. The perfect bike is a cyclocross bike if you have one. I rode my single speed mountain bike, which was a little bit less than ideal but still fun.

Continues after the jump.


One of the best parts of the C&O is that you can start pretty much anywhere, I started in Georgetown pretty close to the Mile zero, because you can access it directly from the Rock Creek trail. However, it’s a 180 mile trail, you can pretty much put in and take out wherever you like. Keep in mind that if you are doing an out and back – only ride out half as many miles as you want to ride total. Otherwise, you’re in for a long ride.

Ride Notes:

Be sure to pump your tire up before you head out, and bring a flat tire repair kit and a pump. Chances are better than normal that you catch a flat tire on the trail.
When riding on a beautiful day, there are parts of the trail that can get very crowded. Be sure to announce your presence to others wearing headphones and pass at a modest speed.


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